FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.04.2022

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, a new season for Avalon’s film club, donor engagement, business card trends, thinking traps to avoid, and more. Read it here! 

Dear friends,

In the wake of Fiona’s damage in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Ian pushed a devastating path through Cuba, Florida, and South Carolina last week. If any of you are working from these places, please let me or your Avalon teams know so we can support you. We understand the difficulty of managing work during these kinds of events. This was a big lesson for all of us during COVID, and we’re ready.

In happier news, client events are up and running. I am in Yellowstone this week with senior VP Margot O’Leary, where we’re attending Yellowstone Forever’s 150th anniversary celebration. Last month, VP Kristen Shank Finn and program manager Shauri Thomas had a wonderful evening at the American Horticultural Society’s 100th anniversary gala on their historic River Farm. And last weekend, senior VP Mary Meredith and digital account director David Lothamer attended the Humane Rescue Alliance’s 35th Annual Bark Ball, where Mary’s dog Hazel represented our many Avalon pets. Thank you all for hosting such special events!

Shauri and Kristen sit at a table with clients Susan, Nora, Leslie, and Joan standing behind them. They are under a tent decked with greenery and lightsSusan Klejst, Nora MacDonald, Leslie Fetty, and Joan Barclay (standing) of American Horticultural Society with Shauri Thomas and Kristen Shank Finn (seated) at the gala at River Farm.

Mary, David, and Mary's dog Hazel, all dressed in their finest, stand in front of the catwalk at the Bark BallMary Meredith, David Lothamer, and Hazel at the Bark Ball.

At Avalon last week, we kicked off a new season of our documentary film club, Thinking Creatively. Our first film of the season was And Still I Rise, the PBS American Masters documentary on Maya Angelou. It weaves interviews, Dr. Angelou’s words, and footage of her performances to tell the story of her life, creative endeavors, and philosophy. Our team had a terrific discussion about her impact and what we fundraisers can learn from her example. In addition, our film club is a fun opportunity to connect with colleagues and stretch beyond our day-to-day work.

We have also been reading Future Fundraising Now’s post on seven ways to keep donors engaged. These are evergreen practices that build connection and trust between your nonprofit and your donors. That relationship, in turn, supports strong retention and lifetime value. Here’s their engagement checklist, plus one extra from me:

1. Connect with [donors] more often.
2. Provide more quality and less fluff.
3. Give them a chance to be heard.
4. Use a variety of communication methods.
5. Make it super easy to contact you.
6. Show you are listening.
7. Keep it simple—one call to action per communication.
8. I (Allison) am adding one more…Always say thank you!

On the leadership side, The NonProfit Times recently published a report on seven thinking traps leaders should look out for: tunnel vision, isolation, image management, poor decision making, complacency, short-sightedness, and fear of failure. For each of these problems, the author explains the trap and the solution. For example, here is an excerpt on the problem of short-sightedness:

Short-sightedness gives [leaders] the ability to fight fires in the present, but thwarts their vision of the future…When emergencies occur, extraordinary leaders take a moment to gather their thoughts, round up the appropriate resources, and work through problems with an eye on the long-term strategy.

I was also fascinated by Wall Street Journal coverage of business card trends in “The Slow Death of the Traditional Business Card.” The article features tech-forward options, including scannable jewelry and implanted business card chips. In addition, QR-coded cards are now popular. COVID intensified the decline of traditional cards due to reduced in-person encounters and increased germ awareness. However, if you still prefer a physical card, there are plenty of creative options.

Finally, I hope you caught the recent story of Lizzo playing historic flutes at the Library of Congress, most notably James Madison’s 1831 crystal flute. The crystal flute also made it onstage with Lizzo at the Capital One Arena, where she said, “Thank you to the Library of Congress for preserving our history and making history freaking cool!” I love it. Thank YOU, Lizzo.

Take care,


Allison signature gray

Allison Porter headshot

Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102